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What are Uneasiness Activity in Cats?

Uneasiness in cats is a broad term that describes abnormal watchfulness, anxiety and shyness. This type of activity may be behind the behavior of a cat who seems worried, apprehensive, or unstable. Cats come from a long line of predators who were also sometimes prey, and some of that caution and behavior can also appear in modern, domesticated cats. 

Uneasiness can be defined as a physical or mental discomfort caused by a lack of ease, and often manifests as anxious behavior resulting from a negative event, like changes in the household, a new pet, physical or psychological trauma.


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Symptoms of Uneasiness Activity in Cats

Since uneasiness can arise from a variety of causes, and every cat can show different signs of the behavior, symptoms are diverse. But there are some symptoms that are commonly seen when a cat is tense, agitated, or afraid. The observant Pet Parent may only see one or two signs, but these can be clues as to what’s causing the uneasiness and how to help. Some common symptoms of uneasiness in a cat include:

  • Excessive sucking, licking, and chewing
  • Hunting behaviors, such as running and chasing
  • Paw-shaking
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Aggression that is directed at themselves (chewing and biting) 
  • Overgrooming
  • Not wanting to be touched and held
  • Withdrawal
  • Separation anxiety
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Pacing
  • Not sleeping
  • Being excessively watchful
  • Aggressiveness to other pets or humans
  • Low appetite
  • Irritability


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Causes of Uneasiness Activity in Cats

Uneasiness in a cat is the result of fear of the unknown, a memory of a negative event, or a current situation that upsets them. For instance, if a cat has an unpleasant encounter with a dog, they may remain watchful and nervous for a very long time, even if there’s no other dog around. They may act uneasy months after an incident. Causes of uneasiness may include:

  • Illness 
  • Injury
  • Separation anxiety
  • Rough treatment
  • Car or plane rides 
  • Unfamiliar people or animals
  • Trauma
  • Loud noises in the environment
  • Confinement for long periods
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Dirty litter box
  • Changes in the household environment


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Diagnosis of Uneasiness Activity in Cats

A veterinarian is key to the diagnosis of uneasiness, and should be consulted when any signs or symptoms appear. A physical exam may show objective, related medical results such as dilated pupils, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and panting or difficulty breathing. The veterinarian may perform blood and urine tests, or apply other tools like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to refine the diagnosis and determine a cause.

The vet will also want to obtain a medical and behavioral history to look for previous occurrences of the cat’s present behavior. The connections between environment and stimuli can often be made this way. 

Observations of the cat’s behavior and what, if anything, improves relaxation and calmness will be crucial to identifying causes and effects. The veterinarian will observe the cat’s body language, which may include position of their ears, a hunched body, or slinking close to the floor. The vet may ask you to keep a written record and provide updates regularly as various interventions and treatments are tried.


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Treatment of Uneasiness Activity in Cats

Treating the cat’s uneasy behavior without treating the cause will not solve the problem. Whether it’s pain, an unpleasant experience, or illness, causes must be identified and treated. Uneasiness is characterized by certain behaviors, but may not respond to all accepted methods of behavior modification alone.The process may be lengthy, using various approaches both physical and behavioral.

Medications

Your veterinarian may prescribe medications that help alleviate anxiety or fear underlying the uneasiness. These may include anti-anxiety meds like amitriptyline, clomipramine, and benzodiazepines. Gabapentin for pain, or an opioid like Tramadol may be necessary. If a disease like hyperthyroidism is the origin, anti-thyroid hormones can be given. 

Cats can vary widely in their response to medications. In most cases, improvement may take several months while some cats take the meds for over a year. During this time it’s important for the veterinarian to monitor the cat’s response and the efficacy of the drug. They will also observe for any negative effects. The vet may need to make changes in medications to improve outcomes, so follow up is needed.

Invasive procedures

To treat an illness that is causing unease, medical interventions may be necessary. Actions may include a dermatology or diet workup, or a biopsy, to rule out allergies, parasites, chronic itching and superficial pain. 

Injuries may require surgery, casting, or stitches, or a hyperactive thyroid may need to be removed. While the procedures could cause additional trauma, removal of the underlying cause will make treatment for uneasiness more effective.

Behavior modification

Positive behavior modification can be helpful in easing a cat’s stress and reducing symptoms. Distracting the cat with treats and interactive toys after removing environmental stressors can shift their attention to pleasant activities and memories to replace whatever is causing the unease. Play and exercise has a large role in producing a calmer, more mellow cat.

Petting and soothing may settle a cat down, but only if the cat approves. Providing perches and window seats can help them to come out of hiding and learn to relax in their environment without having to interact if they don’t want to.

Herbal Treatments

Some herbal remedies such as catnip can soothe. How does an herb known for stimulating a cat help to calm them down? By providing initial stimulation, the cat may become distracted and tired, able to replace their anxiety with a more laid back mood. 


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Recovery of Uneasiness Activity in Cats

Uneasiness from a traumatic event or threatening environment can take a very long time to resolve. In some cats, future bouts of unease can arise with no apparent direct cause. Diagnostic and treatment methods may change with each occurrence. 

Your veterinarian should be involved in any repeated bouts of uneasiness. They will provide insight as to whether a new cause is to blame. Follow up is key to dealing with recurring  incidents.

Cat uneasiness can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your cat has uneasiness or is at risk, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like Embrace and Trupanion. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!


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Uneasiness Activity in Cats Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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